Reduce your rates by using a local SIM.
Egypt is one of the oldest Arab nations, close to Sudan and Libya, with some of the most spectacular tourist attractions in the world. Using your home phone there can be expensive, so consider switching over to a local SIM card to take advantage of better deals and plans. Egypt has some of the best prepaid SIM cards available, with offers that can reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Egypt’s leading telco provider for as little as EGP25 ($1.70). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, longer stay or tour of the Arab nations, check out the best SIM card deals.
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There are three main operators in Egypt: Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat. All three providers have been through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate, and each one competes with the others to offer the best deals. Their services have all been tried and tested by both locals and tourists, and can be trusted.According to OpenSignal’s connectivity report, Egypt has below average network coverage with 72.40% 4G wireless availability, but still doing better than countries such as the Ukraine, Iraq and Iran.
About Egypt’s telco providers
Egypt’s operators offer good roaming rates and sell prepaid credit, which allows users to take advantage of cheap local offers and deals. All three providers offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE wireless services. Locals call their SIM cards “SIMs” or “Chips” and they can be purchased by showing your passport and visa stamp. The store might also take a record of your unique IMEI phone identification number to ensure there are no issues with your handset while you are in the country. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what’s being offered during your visit to Egypt.
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About Vodafone Egypt
Vodafone Egypt is the largest operator with a 44% market share. It offers users a good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE network with broad coverage and great rates. Vodafone offers four different prepaid SIM cards under their el-kart plan: Worry free, 14 Piasters, Maret 10 pt and per Second.
SIM cards can be purchased for EGP20-EGP25 which comes with standard voice and SMS plans. Check stores at the time of purchase for exactly what’s available, because the deals change from time to time. Data is not included with the starter packs so add-ons must be purchased to surf the net and to use social media.
Scratch card top-ups are sold almost anywhere and they can be purchased from most stores or retailers across the country. Top-ups can also be done online.
In addition, there is a tourist SIM on offer called the "Holiday SIM" which can be purchased for EGP20 and comes with EGP5 credit, valid for 40 days. The standard default data rate outside of a plan is EGP0.25 per MB, but check this with the retailer because rates can change.
The following data packs can also be added:
|EGP0.75||10MB||Valid for 1 hour||Dial *2000*01# to activate|
|EGP1.50||30MB||Valid for 3 hours||Dial *2000*03# to activate|
|EGP2.50||60MB||Valid for 6 hours||Dial *2000*06# to activate|
|EGP2||50MB||Valid for 7 days||Dial *2000*72# to activate|
|EGP3||100MB||Dial *2000*73# to activate|
|EGP7||350MB||Dial *2000*77# to activate|
|EGP5||150MB||Valid for 30 days||Dial *2000*5# to activate|
|EGP10||400MB||Dial *2000*10# to activate|
|EGP25||1.25GB||Dial *2000*25# to activate|
|EGP60||3.5GB||Dial *2000*60# to activate|
|EGP100||7GB||Dial *2000*100# to activate|
|EGP150||12GB||Dial *2000*150# to activate|
|EGP250||20GB||Dial *2000*200# to activate|
1) EGP5: 150MB – dial *2000*105# to activate
2) EGP20: 1GB – dial *2000*1020# to activate
Vodafone’s APN: internet.vodafone.net (Password and Username: internet)
Orange is the second largest provider in Egypt with a 33% market share. It offers customers a reliable 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE service with good rates. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for EGP30, valid for 30 days. There are two different prepaid options: “per second” is a standard SIM with no frills, whereas the “Netwawy” SIM comes with 50MB data per day for an extra EGP1.50, or 400MB for 7 days for EGP7.
All SIM cards are automatically activated on the “pay as you consume” plan which allocates 12MB for EGP1.5 per day; overuse is charged at EGP0.50-EGP0.25 per MB. The following data packs can also be added:
|Online 1||Valid for 24 hrs||25MB Data||-||EGP1|
|Online 5||Valid for 30 days||150MB Data||-||EGP5|
|Online 10||400MB Data||400MB WiFi||EGP10|
|Online 25||1.25GB Data||1.25GB WiFi||EGP25|
|Online 50||3GB Data||3GB WiFi||EGP50|
|Online 75||5GB Data||5GB WiFi||EGP75|
|Online 100||7GB Data||7GB WiFi||EGP100|
|Online 150||12GB Data||12GB WiFi||EGP150|
|Online 250||20GB Data||14GB WiFi||EGP250|
|Online 400||40GB Data||14GB WiFi||EGP400|
|Online 150||Valid for 1 year||500MB per month||-||EGP150|
Data packs can be added: 1.25GB for EGP25, 3GB for EGP50, 7GB for EGP100 or 15GB for EGP200. You can also make the packages “unlimited” for an extra EGP10. Pay EGP5 and you will receive 500MB data on top of your current package for social media use.
Orange APN: mobinilweb
Although Etisalat is the smallest of the three providers in Egypt, it’s one of the largest operators in the Arab region, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE wireless and has some fantastic prices and good network coverage. However, there can be problems with speed when you go out into the more remote regions. Etisalat allows customers the use of their hotspots with all plans. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers for EGP20 and each comes with EGP10 credit.
The standard default data rate is EGP0.50 per MB on all prepaid plans. The following data packs can be added to all SIM cards:
|Connect 7.5||150MB Data||-||EGP7.50||Dial *566*75# to activate|
|Connect 15||500MB Data||500MB WiFi||EGP15||Dial *566*15# to activate|
|Connect 30||1.5GB Data||1.5GB WiFi||EGP30||Dial *566*30# to activate|
|Connect 45||2.5GB Data||1.5GB WiFi||EGP45||Dial *566*45# to activate|
|Connect 60||3.5GB Data||4GB WiFi||EGP60||Dial *566*60# to activate|
|Connect 100||8GB Data||7GB WiFi||EGP100||Dial *566*100# to activate|
|Connect 150||12GB Data||7GB WiFi||EGP150||Dial *566*150# to activate|
The standard default data rate is EGP0.15 per MB, and overuse is also charged at this rate. A Super Social Unlimited pack for social media use can be purchased for EGP15 which allows 1GB data use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat, plus 100MB for Internet use. Dial *566*15# to activate this social media plan.
|EGP25||1.25GB Data||0.5GB WiFi||Valid for 1 month||Dial *131# to activate|
|EGP50||3GB Data||1.5GB WiFi||Valid for 3 months||Dial *132# to activate|
|EGP100||7GB Data||4GB WiFi||Valid for 3 months||Dial *133# to activate|
|EGP150||12GB Data||4GB WiFi||Valid for 3 months||Dial *134# to activate|
|EGP250||25GB Data||7GB WiFi||Valid for 3 months||Dial *137# to activate|
Dial *130# to speak with customer services.
Etisalat’s APN: Etisalat
Website in English:http://www.etisalat.eg
- Arabic is spoken in Egypt, so if you don’t know the language you may want to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. However, English is also spoken as a second language in the Middle East.
- Egyptians call a SIM card a “SIM” or “chip”.
- Ask the sellers to set up the SIM for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
- Remember, it’s always better to get things done early, before the shops get too busy. That way, you are more likely to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds!
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
“You can get a SIM card from virtually anywhere. Every major street in Cairo will have a distributor or a dealer for one or more of the three operators, so just ask your hotel for the nearest place to buy a SIM card.”
“Price is not an issue at all. Prices at an operator's shop will be between EGP20-EGP25 for a local Prepaid SIM (and this is what you should get, so avoid the Tourist line). Etisalat's prepaid card is called "Ahlan”.
“You will have to provide your passport so that a copy will be attached to the contract for documentation.”
Pros and cons of Egypt’s top telco providers
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, or if it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you start your travels.
- Good value for money
- Egypt has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
An important question about finding the best SIM
Q: Can Egyptian SIM cards be used throughout the Middle East region?
A: Egyptian SIM cards can be used in other Middle Eastern countries, subject to additional roaming charges, but that defeats the object of purchasing a local SIM card. We advise you to only use the Egyptian SIM card in Egypt, to reap the full benefits of what it can offer. If you plan on traveling around the Arab nations, it would be advisable to purchase a SIM card from each country you visit to cut costs.